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The Shakti Peethas (holy places of cosmic power) are places of worship consecrated to the goddess 'Sati', the female principal of Hinduism and the main deity of the Shakta sect. They are sprinkled throughout the Indian subcontinent.[1]

This goddess is often associated both with Gowrī/Parvati, the benevolent goddess of harmony, marital felicity and longevity, with Durga, goddess of strength and valour, and with Mahakali, goddess of destruction of the evil.

Legend

Dakshayani

Shiva carrying the corpse of Dakshayani

According to legend, at some time in the Satya Yuga, Daksha performed a yagna (named Vrihaspati) with a desire of taking revenge on Lord Shiva. Daksha was angry because his daughter Sati had married the 'yogi' God Shiva against his wish. Daksha invited all the deities to the yagna except for Shiva and Sati. The fact that she was not invited did not deter Sati from attending the yagna. She had expressed her desire to attend to Shiva who had tried his best to dissuade her from going. Shiva eventually allowed her to go escorted by his ganas (followers).

But Sati, being an uninvited guest, was not given any respect. Furthermore, Daksha insulted Shiva. Sati was unable to bear her father's insults toward her husband, so Dākshāyani invoked her yogic powers and immolated herself.

Enraged at the insult and the injury, Shiva destroyed Daksha's sacrifice, cut off Daksha's head, and replaced it with that of a goat as he restored him to life. Still crazed with grief, he picked up the remains of Sati's body, and danced the dance of destruction through the Universe. The other gods intervened to stop this dance, and the Vishnu's disk, or Sudarshana Chakra, cut through the corpse of Sati. The various parts of the body fell at several spots all through the Indian subcontinent and formed sites which are known as Shakti Peethas today.

At all Shakti Peethas, the Goddess Shakti is accompanied by Lord Bhairava (a manifestation of Lord Shiva).

4 Adi Shakti Peethas

Some of the great religious texts like the Shiva Purana, the Devi Bhagavat the Kalika Purana and the AstaShakti recognize four major Shakti Peethas(centers), like Bimala (Pada Khanda)(inside the Jgannath temple of Puri,Orissa), Tara Tarini (Stana Khanda,Breasts)(Near Berhampur,Orissa), Kamakshi (Yoni khanda)(Near Guwahati, Assam) and Dakhina Kalika (Mukha khanda)(Kolkata, West Bengal) originated from the limbs of the Corpse of Mata Sati in the Satya Yuga.

The Astashakti and Kalika Purana clearly says (IN SANSKRIT):

“Bimala Pada khandancha,
Sthana khandancha Tarini (Tara Tarini),
Kamakshya Yoni khandancha,
Mukha khandancha Kalika (Dakshina Kalika)
Anga pratyanga sanghena
'Vishnu Chakra Kshyta nacha.'

Further explaining the importance of these four Peethas the Brihat Samhita also gives the geographical location of these Peethas. For Example:

'"Rushikulya**Tatae Devi,
Tarakashya Mahagiri,
Tashya Srunga Stitha Tara,
Vasishta rajitapara."'

(**Rushikulya: A River flowing on the foot hill of the Tara Tarini Hill Shrine).

So,there is absolutely no dispute regarding these four famous Adi Peethas.

Apart from these four there are 52 other famous Peethas recognised by religious Texts. According to the Pithanirnaya Tantra the 52 peethas are scattered all over India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Tibet and Pakistan. The Shivacharita besides listing 52 maha-peethas, speaks about 26 more upa-peethas. The Bengali almanac, Vishuddha Siddhanta Panjika too describes the 52 peethas including the present modified addresses. A few of the several accepted listings are given below.

[2]. One of the few in South India, Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh became the site for a 2nd century temple. [3]

In the listings below:

  • "Sati" refers to the Goddess worshipped at each location, all being manifestations of Dakshayani/Parvati/Durga);
  • "Bhairava" refers to the corresponding consort, each a manifestation of Shiva;
  • "Organ or Ornament" refers to the body part or piece of jewellery that fell to earth, at the location on which the respective temple is built.

4 Adi Shakti Peethas Sr. No.,Place,Organ,Shakti

  1. ,________, Pada,Bimala
  2. Near Berhampur-Orissa,Sthana khanda, Tara Tarini,
  3. Guwahati-Assam,Yoni khanda, Kamakshya
  4. Kolkata- West Bengal, Mukha khanda,Dakshina Kalika'

The 52 Shakti Peethas

Sr. No. Place Body Part or Ornament Shakti Bhairava
1 Kanchipuram,Kamatchi temple,Kamakoti Peetam mentioned in Lalita Sahasram,Trishati,Astothram etc. Ottiyana (Ornament covering stomach) Kamakshi Kala Bhairav
2 Sri Lanka, in Nainativu, Jaffna Anklets Indrakshi / Nagapooshani Rakshaseshwar / Naayanar
3 Shivaharkaray, a little distance from Sukkur Station from Karachi, Pakistan Eyes Mahishmardini Krodhish
4 Sugandha, situated in Shikarpur, Gournadi, about 20 km from Barisal town, Bangladesh, on the banks of Sonda river. Nose Sunanda Trayambak
5 Amarnath in Kashmir, India from Srinagar through Pahalgam 94 km by Bus, Chandanwari 16 km by walk Throat Mahamaya Trisandhyeshwar
6 Jwalamukhi, Kangra, India from Pathankot alight at Jwalamukhi Road Station from there 20 km Tongue Siddhida (Ambika) Unmatta Bhairav
7 Ambaji, at Anart, Gujarat, India Heart Ambaji
8 Nepal, near Pashupatinath Temple at Gujyeshwari Temple Both Knees Mahashira Kapali
9 Manas, under Tibet at the feet of Mount Kailash in Lake Mansarovar, a piece of Stone Right Hand Dakshayani Amar
10 Biraja in Utkal present Orissa, India Navel Girija/Viraja/Biraja Jagannath
11 Gandaki from Pokhara, Nepal about 125 km on the banks of Gandaki river where Muktinath temple is situated Temple Gandaki Chandi Chakrapani
12 Bahula, on the banks of Ajay river, at Ketugram 8 km from Katwa, Burdwan, West Bengal, India Left Arm Goddess Bahula Bhiruk
13 Ujaani, 16 km from Guskara Station under Burdwan district of West Bengal, India Right Wrist Mangal Chandika Kapilambar
14 Udaipur, Tripura, at the top of the hills known as Tripura Sundari temple near Radhakishorepur village, a little distance away from Udaipur town of Tripura, India Right Leg Tripura Sundari Tripuresh
15 On the Chandranath hill near Sitakunda station of Chittagong District, Bangladesh. The famous Chandranath Temple on the top of the hill is the Bhairav temple of this Shakti Peetha, not the Shakti Peeth itself. Right Arm Bhawani Chandrashekhar
16 Trisrota, at Salbari village under Boda division of Jalpaiguri district, West Bengal, India Left Leg Bhraamari Ambar
17 Kamgiri, Kamakhya, at the Neelachal hills near Guwahati, capital of Assam, India Genital Organ Kamakhya Umanand
18 yogaadya at Khirgram under Burdwan district, West Bengal, India Great Toe (Right) Jugaadya Ksheer Khandak
19 Kalipeeth, (Kalighat, Kolkata), India Right Toes Kalika Nakuleshwar
20 Prayag near Sangam at Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India Finger (Hand) Alopi Devi Mandir or Madhaveswari Bhava
21 Jayanti at Kalajore Baurbhag village of Falzur Pargana under Jayantia Thana of Sylhet district, Bangladesh. This Shakti Peetha is locally known as Falizur Kalibari. Left Thigh Jayanti Kramadishwar
22 Kireet at Kireetkona village, 3 km from Lalbag Court Road station under district Murshidabad, West Bengal, India Crown Vimla Sanwart
23 Varanasi at Manikarnika Ghat on banks of Ganga at Kashi, Uttar Pradesh, India Earring Vishalakshi & Manikarni Kalbhairav
24 Kanyashram, Kanyakumari the Bhadrakali temple within the precincts of Kumari temple, Tamil Nadu, India (also thought to be situated in Chittagong, Bangladesh) Back Sarvani Nimish
25 Present day Kurukshetra town or Thanesar ancient Sthaneshwar, at Haryana, India Ankle Bone Savitri Sthanu
26 Manibandh, at Gayatri hills near Pushkar 11 km towards north-west from Ajmer, Rajasthan, India Two Bracelets Gayatri Sarvanand
27 Shri Shail, at Jainpur village, near Gotatikar, towards north-east 3 km from Sylhet town, Bangladesh Neck Mahalaxmi Sambaranand
28 Kankalitala, on the banks of Kopai River 10 km towards north-east from Bolpur station of district Birbhum, Devi locally known as KankaleshwariWest Bengal, India Bone Devgarbha Ruru
29 Kalmadhav on the banks of Shon river in a cave over hills near to Amarkantak, Madhya Pradesh, India Buttock (Left) Kali Asitang
30 Shondesh, at the source point of Narmada river in Amarkantak, Madhya Pradesh, India Buttock (Right) Narmada Bhadrasen
31 Ramgiri, at Chitrakuta on the Jhansi Manikpur Railway line in Uttar Pradesh, India Right Breast Shivani Chanda
32 Vrindavan, near new bus stand on Bhuteshwar road within Bhuteshwar Mahadev Temple, Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, India Ringlets of Hair Uma Bhutesh
33 Shuchi, in a Shiva temple at Suchindrum 11 km on Kanyakumari Trivandrum road, Tamil Nadu, India Teeth (Upper Jaw) Narayani Sanhar
34 Panchsagar place not known (thought to be near Haridwar) Teeth (Lower Jaw) Varahi Maharudra
35 Karatoyatat, at Bhabanipur village 28 km distance from interior Sherpur. Alight at Bogra station under district Bogra, Bangladesh Left Anklet (Ornament) Arpana Vaman
36 Shri Parvat, near Ladak, Kashmir, India. Another belief: at Srisailam in Shriparvat hills under Karnool district, Andhra Pradesh, India Right Anklet (Ornament) Shrisundari Sundaranand
37 Vibhash, at Tamluk under district Purba Medinipur, West Bengal, India Left Ankle Kapalini (Bhimarupa) Sarvanand
38 Prabhas, 4 km distance from Veraval station near Somnath temple in Junagadh district of Gujarat, India Stomach Chandrabhaga Vakratund
39 Bhairavparvat, at Bhairav hills on the banks of Shipra river a little distance from Ujjaini town, Madhya Pradesh, India Upper Lips Avanti Lambkarna
40 Jansthan, at Godavari river valley near Nasik, Maharashtra, India Chin (Two Parts) Bhramari Vikritaksh
41 Sarvashail or Godavaritir, at Kotilingeswar temple on the banks of Godavari river near Rajamundry, Andhra Pradesh, India Cheeks Rakini or Vishweshwari Vatsnabh or Dandpani
42 Birat, near Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India Left Feet Fingers Ambika Amriteshwar
43 Ratnavali, on the banks of Ratnakar river at Khanakul-Krishnanagar, district Hooghly, West Bengal, India Right Shoulder Kumari Shiva
44 Mithila, near Janakpur Railway station on the boarder of India-Nepal Left Shoulder Uma Mahodar
45 Nalhati,known as "Nalateshwari Temple" near Nalhati station of Birbhum district by rickshaw, West Bengal, India Tubular Bones of the Feet Kalika Devi Yogesh
46 Karnat place not known Both Ears Jayadurga Abhiru
47 Bakreshwar, on the banks of Paaphara river, 24 km distance from Siuri Town, district Birbhum,7 km from Dubrajpur Rly. Station West Bengal, India Portion between the eyebrows Mahishmardini Vakranath
48 Jessoreswari, situated at Ishwaripur, Shyamnagar, district Satkhira, Bangladesh. The temple complex was built by Maharaja Pratapaditya, whose capital was Ishwaripur. Palms of Hands & Feet Jashoreshwari Chanda
49 Attahas village of Dakshindihi in the district of Bardhaman, near the Katwa Rail Station, in West Bengal, India Lips Phullara Vishvesh
50 Sainthia, locally Known as "Nandikeshwari" temple. Earlier Nandipur/Now in Sainthia Town. only 1.5 km from Railway Station under a banyan tree within a boundary wall, Birbhum district, West Bengal, India Necklace Nandini Nandikeshwar
51 Hinglaj (Or Hingula), southern Baluchistan a few hours North-east of Gawadar and about 125 km towards North-west from Karachi, Pakistan Bramharandhra (Part of the head) Kottari Bhimlochan
52 Danestwari (Kuldevi Of Bastar state), Dantewada 80 km from Jagdalpur Tehsil, Chhattisgarh Daant (Teeth) Danteshwari[1] Kapalbhairv
53 [Padmavati Devi] (Padmavatipuri Dham), Panns 80 km from Satna Madhya Pradesh Padm Padmavati Devi Kapalbhairv
  • Khanakul Hooghly (kmarshal),Fullara in Birbhum district are also considered to be a shakti peetha.[4]
  • Nainadevi in Himachal Pradesh is also considered a shakti peetha, where Sati's eyes fell. Naina Devi Temple
  • Sharda Devi Temple at Maihar near Jabalpur is also considered a shakti peeth where the necklace of Sati fell.

Historical notes

First relating to Brahmanda Purana, one of the major eighteen Puranas, it mentions 64 Shakthi Peeta of Goddess Parvati in the Bharat or Greater India including present day India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.Another text which gives a listing of these shrines, is the Shakthi Peetha Stotram, written by Adi Shankara, the 9th century Hindu philosopher [5].

According to the manuscript Mahapithapurana (circa 1690-1720 CE), there are 52 such places. Among them, 23 are located in the Bengal region. 14 of these are located in what is now West Bengal, India, 1 in Baster (Chattisgarh), while 7 are in what is now Bangladesh.

Preserving the mortal relics of famous and respected individuals was a common practice in ancient India - seen in the Buddhist stupas which preserve the relics of Gautama Buddha. It is believed by some that these 64 peethas preserve the remains of some ancient female sage from whom the legend of Kali could have emerged and then merged with the Purusha- Prakriti (Shiva Shakti) model of Hindu thought.

Locations

The modern cities or towns that correspond to these 64 locations can be a matter of dispute, but there are a few that are totally unambiguous, these are mentioned in the Ashta Dasa Shakthi Peetha Stotram by Adi Shankara[6]. This list contains 18 such locations which are often referred to as Maha Shakthi Peeths [7].

Sr. No. Place Part of the Body fallen Name of Shakti
1 Trimkomali(Srilanka) Groin Sankari devi
2 Kanchi (Tamil Nadu) Back Part Kamakshi Devi
3 Praddyumnam(Gujarat) Stomach part Sri srunkala devi
4 Mysore (Karnataka) Head hairs Chamundeswari devi
5 Alampur (Andhra Pradesh) Upper teeth rows Jogulamba devi
6 Srisailam (Andhra Pradesh) Neck part Bhramramba devi
7 Kolhapur (Maharastra) Eyes [Mahalakshmi devi] Mahalaxmi of Kolhapur
8 Nanded (Maharastra) Right hand Ekavenika devi
9 Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh) Upper lip Mahakali devi
10 Pithapuram (Andhra Pradesh) Left hand Puruhutika devi
11 Cuttack (Orissa) Navel Girija devi
12 Draksharamam (Andhra Pradesh) Left cheek Manikyamba devi
13 Gauhathi(Assam) Vulva Kamarupa devi
14 Prayaga (Uttar Pradesh) Fingers(hand) Madhaveswari devi
15 Jwala(Himachal Pradesh) Head part Vaishnavi devi
16 Gaya (Bihar) Breast part Sarvamangala devi
17 Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) Wrist Visalaksi devi
18 Dantewada (Chattisgarh) Tooth Danteswari devi
19 Kashmir Right Hand Saraswathi devi

Among these, the Shakti Peeths at Kamakhya, Gaya and Ujjain are regarded as most sacred as they symbolise three most important aspects of mother Goddess viz. Creation (Kamarupa Devi), Nourishment (Sarvamangala Devi/Mangalagauri) and Annihilation (Mahakali Devi). When observed carefully one can see that they lie in a perfect straight line from Kamakhya to Ujjain via Gaya symbolizing that every creation in this universe will annihilate one day without fail.

Notes

  1. Article, from Banglapedia.
  2. 52 Pithas of Parvati - From Hindunet
  3. Shakti Pitha sites in India.
  4. "Labhpur". Birbhum District administration. http://birbhum.gov.in/birtour2.htm. Retrieved 2007-08-24. 
  5. Shakthi Peetha Stotram Vedanta Spiritual Library.
  6. Ashta Dasa Shakthi Peetha Stotram From Hindupedia
  7. ASTADASA MAHA SAKTHI-PEETHAS From srisailam.co.in

References

External links

hi:शक्ति पीठ

te:శక్తిపీఠాలు

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